Quick facts

Tourist Guide of Prespa
  1. Brief History of Prespa
  2. Natural resources and heritage
  3. Cultural Heritage
  4. Cuisine and Drinks
  5. Events and Festivals
  6. Attractions

Brief History of Resen

Through the ages, Prespa marked its existence in the written historical records of the two major civilizations - Greek and Roman.
During the Roman Empire, the famous antient Roman road "Via Egnatia" passed through Prespa. Alongside that road were built several settlements and road stations. One of them was Skirtijana, in whose place later was built the Slavic settlement Resen.
During the VI and VII century, the Slavic tribes - Brsjaci settled in Prespa.
Resen is first mentioned as a medieval settlement in the Charter of Dusan's Code of 1337, under the name Rosne. In a 16th century census, the settlement is registered as Resne.
In the XVIII century, with the development of trade and crafts, Resen grew into a small urban settlement.

During the Ilinden Uprising in 1903, a number of rural settlements in the Municipality of Resen were liberated from the Ottoman slavery, but the town of Resen had not yet been liberated. On July 3, 1908, the Young Turk Revolution, led by Ahmet Niyazi Bey, began in Resen. The Macedonians from Resen also joined this revolution. The Young Turk revolution strived for modernization, constitutionality and democratization of Macedonia.
On August 2, 1943 in the immediate vicinity of the village Otesevo was held the famous Prespa conference.
The city of Resen was liberated on September 11, 1944.

Natural resources and heritage

Natural resources and heritage The Prespa region is located on the Balkan Peninsula, on the border between Republic of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece. This area is considered an ecological entity of global importance because here can be found a variety of biotopes - lakes, mountains and forests that have distinctive and unique features.
The region is considered an important reservoir of biodiversity and natural production. The municipality of Resen is located in the Prespa Valley, between the mountains Baba (with the highest peak Pelister 2600m) in the east and Galicica (2235m) in the west. On its northern side are the mountains Plakenska and Bigla (1933m), and in the south Prespa borders with Albania and Greece.

There are two national parks on the territory of the Municipality of Resen - Pelister and Galicica. Most of Lake Prespa belongs to the Municipality of Resen - 65%, and the rest is divided between Albania - 18% and Greece - 17%. In the waters of Lake Prespa is the border between North Macedonia, Albania and Greece.
The transparency of Lake Prespa ranges from 5 to about 10 meters.
This natural wealth is important for the development of tourism in the Prespa region. The only natural island in North Macedonia is located in the waters of Lake Prespa – the island Golem Grad.
On the northern part of Lake Prespa is the Nature Park - Ezerani.
The only colony of the Great White Pelican in the European Union is located in Prespa.

Cultural Heritage

The Prespa region as a whole is a pearl of Macedonian cultural and administrative history. Since ancient times, Prespa has been an important crossroad of the Roman road Via Egnatia, and the toponym Pretor (lat. Praetor - governor of the administrative unit) testifies of the importance of the place as the seat of the governor of a Roman province. In the Middle Ages, Prespa was known as a bastion and capital of Macedonian Empire of Tsar Samoil, which had its brightest moments and its tragic end in this region.
Prespa area has registered 130 archeological sites from different periods of the development of material culture, 1000 archeological exhibits, 500 coins, as well as 450 exhibits of ethnological heritage.
In Prespa there are 95 churches and monastery complexes, as well as 1024 icons. To this day, the sacral buildings from the period of the 11-17 century still exist: St. Ilija in village Grncari (12th century), St. Gjorgji in village Kurbinovo (12th century), St. Sava in village Pretor (14th century), St. Bogorodica in village Slivnica (17th century), St. Petka in village Brajcino (14th century) and St. Atanas and St. Arhangel in village Dolno Dupeni (14th century).
One of the most important monuments of Islamic culture is the Hadjiramadan Mosque, built in 1592.

The villages of Brajcino, Ljubojno and Dolno Dupeni are recognizable for their traditional village architecture with houses built of stone that still reflect the spirit of a bygone era. From the city architecture, the so-called Saraj building stands out. It is a cultural monument in the Republic of Northern Macedonia built in the early 20th century during the Young Turk Revolution, in the style of neoclassicism following the example of French architecture. The Resen ceramic colony, located in the House of Culture "Dragi Tozija" is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics at UNESCO. The ceramic colony, every year organizes a working session for eminent artists from around the world and it is held in the village Oteshevo. In the village Podmocani is one of the richest ethnological collections in Northern Macedonia, housed in the Ethnological Museum of Jone Eftimovski.

Food and Drinks

The municipality of Resen is known for its traditional local cuisine. Hence the products and food that are typical of the municipality.
From the wide range of food, the following products take special place:
  • Dried red peppers
  • Dried peppers with leek
  • Prespa carp
  • Cironki (small fish)
  • Tavce Gravce (baked beans)
  • Sarma
  • Leek pie
  • Serrel and leek pie
  • Pitulici (Donuts)
  • Milk pie
  • Gjomleze
  • Sugar cane

Calendar of events and festivals

Every year, the calendar of events and festivals is enriched with new interesting events that attract the attention of the local population, but also the guests and visitors of Resen and Prespa.
Event Date Brief description
Celebration of the Old New Year- Vasilica bonfire January 13 Manifestation within the tradition by lighting a central bonfire in the square and other smaller bonfires throughout the municipality.
Bogojavlenie- Epiphany January 19 Traditional event held in Otesevo. By throwing a cross in the waters of Lake Prespa, the waters in Prespa are sanctified.
Easter happening Holly Thursday A manifestation that celebrates and marks the great Christian holiday - Easter.
Ilinden August 2 Ilinden in Ljubojno is celebrated as a modern manifestation of the cycle of "emigrant meetings".
Prespa apple harvest Festival September 27 The largest economic and cultural event in the municipality.
Monodrama Festival "Actor of Europe" July- August International Monodrama Festival.
“Hot cultural wave” July- August Set of cultural events of various nature.
Resen Ceramics Colony - session in village Oteshevo August 01-20 Promotion and nurturing of pottery.

Places to visit while you are in Prespa

Prespa Lake

Prespa Lake is an important location, which is most often visited by the local population, as well as by domestic and foreign guests, visitors and tourists.

Prespa Lake covers an area of 176.8 km2 and is located at 2853 m above sea level and thus is the highest tectonic lake in the Balkans. Prespa Lake is 150m higher than Ohrid Lake and because of that the waters of these two lakes mix in the karst terrain under the mountain massif Galicica. Prespa Lake is extremely rich in lake flora and fauna.
The only island in the Republic of North Macedonia is located in the waters of the lake - Golem Grad Island as well as the border between the Republic of North Macedonia, the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Greece.
Prespa Riviera covers the tourist settlements along the shores of Prespa Lake - Pretor, Slivnica, Dolno Dupeni, Stenje and other places.
On both sides of the site are the National Parks Pelister and Galicica.


The Island Golem Grad

The island Golem Grad is one of the three islands in the waters of Prespa Lake, but the only one within the borders of the Republic of North Macedonia. This island is the only island in the country.

The site is important and specific not only for its location, but also for its cultural-historical and natural values and characteristics. The whole island is a kind of archeological site, both from Roman times and from more recently. On the island are located three churches from the period of early Christianity, which are one of the oldest in the Balkans. The most preserved and restored is the church of St. Petar, dating from the 14th century. Apart from the preserved church of St. Petar, the medieval church of St. Dimitrija, there is also an early Christian basilica from the end of the IV and the beginning of the V century, where remains of a floor mosaic have been discovered.
The fauna of this locality consists of rare and endemic species of birds (cormorant, gray heron) and water snakes, while the flora is characterized by the presence of the wild juniper, which except in Prespa, is found in the Caucasus, Iraq, Lebanon and Malaysia.
The island is 750 m long and 450 m wide, with the highest part 50 m above the lake. All sides of the island are surrounded by rocks and cliffs from 20 to 30 meters high. It is protected by law and is part of the Galicica National Park.
The natural location, the beauty, the climate and the isolation have contributed to the true values of the island to remain intact for centuries.
During the reign of Tsar Samoil, his summer house was located on the island. Roman cisterns are still present on the island.


Pelister National Park

Pelister National Park is located in the southwestern part of the Republic of North Macedonia and covers an area of 17,150 hectares. In 1948 it was declared the first protected natural treasure in North Macedonia.

It is characterized by a number of peaks and elevations higher than 2000 meters, which are separated by deep valleys. The highest peak is Pelister (2601m). From the relief forms of Pelister, most impressive are the so-called rocky rivers. These are slopes of the relief filled with blocks of rocks of different composition.
Special natural attraction are the two glacial lakes, Pelister Eyes - the Big and Small Lake of Pelister, also known as "Mountain Eyes".
Pelister National Park has a rich biodiversity, of which the molika tree has the greatest value.
This site has a rich cultural and historical heritage that can be put in function of the development of alternative forms of tourism.


Galicica National Park

Galicica National Park was declared a National Park in 1958 in order to protect its natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna.

The park is located on the mountain massif between Prespa Lake in the east and Ohrid Lake in the west and covers 22,750 hectares of Mount Galicica, with a rich wealth of relict and endemic species of flora, a classic site of 20 species of higher plants, 12 of which are local endemics. 26 endemic faunal species are also present here. The Macedonian National Park Galicica and the Albanian National Park Prespa are divided by the international border between North Macedonia and Albania.
The existing trails and nature in the region are ideal for the development of cycling. In addition, from the recreational activities in the region, the opportunities for hiking, walks, educational-recreational contents, bird and animal observation, sunbathing, skiing, alpinism and caves sightseeing, herbal activities, rural activities, alpine skiing, hunting and other mountains activities stand out.


Nature Park – Ezerani

On the northern part of the lake is located the Ezerani Nature Park on an area of 1917 hectares, of which 1066 hectares are land area, while 851 hectares are water area.

The ratio of land and water surface is relative, because the level of Prespa Lake varies significantly during the year and especially during longer periods.
According to the legislation, Ezerani Nature Park is an area which due to its significant or characteristic ecosystems, geological or physical-geographical characteristics and/or species, as well as originally preserved wilderness, acquires the status of natural heritage, primarily for the purpose of conducting scientific research or protection monitoring.
The protected area is home to about 200 species of birds, of which 62 species are listed as protected species in accordance with the Bern Convention, and three species are on the European’s Red List of World’s Endangered Species. A characteristic representative of the avian fauna in Prespa Lake is the Pelican (Pelecanus crispus). The pelican is one of the largest birds that exists on water, mainly in warmer regions. We have it only on the two Prespa Lakes. The only colony of the Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) in the European Union is located in Prespa.


Brajcino and Brajcinska River

Brajcino village is a mountain village. It is located at an altitude of 1000 meters, with an area that covers about 60 hectares.

It stretches on the far southeastern part of the territory of the municipality of Resen, rising with the area of the southwestern ridge of the Baba mountain. It borders with the municipality of Bitola and the state border line with the Republic of Greece. The Brajcinska River flows through the village.
It is only 15 minutes away from Prespa Lake and is located at the base of Baba Mountain, near the Pelister National Park. It is rich in springs of sparkling water, tall and green forest, mountain peaks that captivate with their beauty, ecological apples sprouted at an altitude of over 1,000 meters and strawberries that ripen in late summer - this is part of the "portfolio" of Brajcino, the only Macedonian village, which is on the world’s tourist map with the sign - ecological tourism.
Brajcino village stands out for its characteristic rural architecture. The architecture is a special whole, with stone houses, ovens and wicker fences. This rural architecture dates back to the 19th century.
The existing accommodation and catering facilities, arranged in the spirit of Macedonian architecture and interior design, with a specific offer of Prespa specialties from the traditional Macedonian cuisine enabled this rural settlement to get its place on the tourist market in North Macedonia and beyond.


Ljubojno

Ljubojno village was once a large settlement, but due to internal and external migrations, the population decreased.

Ljubojno is first mentioned in a charter of Tsar Dusan from 1337, and later it is mentioned in an inscription of the Slivnica Monastery from 1607, as a larger Macedonian settlement.
Ljubojno is very famous for the fact that it has been an educational center for a long time and that there were educated people in the village even before the Second World War.
The first school in the village was built in the second half of the 19th century.
In Ljubojno village, the rural tourism shows initial signals. The natural and cultural values enable this activity to get a significant place in the family business in the village.
Of particular importance is the rural architecture, which is largely preserved in its originality.


St. Gjorgi’s Church - Kurbinovo village

The church "St. Gjorgji ”is located in the area of the Kurbinovo village at 1100 meters above sea level.
The building dates from 1191 and it is one of the most beautiful temples of God in North Macedonia.

This church is based on the foundations of an even older monastery from the 9th century.
The frescoes from the 12th century are almost completely preserved. They are one of the most beautiful, the most original and the best preserved frescoes that reach us from that period.
The frescoes of St. George’s church and the frescoes of St. Panteleimon’s church near Skopje are top achievements from the period of Komnenian art in North Macedonia. The play of the Archangel Gabriel stands out, which has grown into a symbol and a recognizable sign of the church. A segment of the fresco of Saint Archangel Gabriel "The Angel from Kurbinovo" from this church is on the background on the banknote of 50 Macedonian denar.
Since 1958, the church has been under protection and has been declared a cultural and historical monument. Several restorations of the building have been made.


Monastery of St. Bogorodica - Slivnica (Slivnica Monastery)

The monastery "Rozestvo na Presveta Bogorodica" (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) near the village Slivnica is one of the cultural treasures of Prespa.

The complex consists of a church and lodgings (late 17th century), located in the large monastery courtyard. Near the church, there is a spring of holy water whose miraculous and healing properties are spoken of with respect. The monastery was built in 1607 and according to the description was built in three phases. The frescoes in the temple, as well as the wooden iconostasis with the throne icons, the royal doors and the big cross originate from that period. He is 400 years old.
The painting is almost entirely preserved and is one of the most important representatives of the post-Byzantine period in North Macedonia.
The frescoes as a whole are well preserved and have all the stylistic features of the wall painting from the beginning of the 17th century in North Macedonia.
The monastery "Rozestvo na Presveta Bogorodica" (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) is located about 3 km from the village Slivnica, at 1100 meters above sea level.


Monastery of St. Petka - Brajcino village

The monastery "St. Petka” is located in the area of the village Brajcino at 1100 meters above sea level.

In the past, the church was abandoned and the monastic life stalled. Looking back in history, the time in which the church was built remains unclear.
The lodgings were built on the southwest side of the church.
In 1903 they were destroyed in fire. At the initiative and with the help of the local population, the lodgings were rebuilt in 1911, then demolished again. Today the lodgings are rebuilt and functional and are used to accommodate guests, tourists and visitors.


Ethnological Museum - Podmocani village

One of the richest ethnological museums in North Macedonia is the Ethnological Museum of Jone Eftimovski, located in the Podmocani village.

A rare and magnificent collection of traditional costumes and artifacts from all over the country can be found in this ethnological museum. The collection includes over 2000 art objects: jewelry, weapons, old coins, household items and over 160 different Macedonian national costumes from different regions of Macedonia. Apart from the presentation of authentic objects, the visitors of this private museum can also buy souvenirs (dolls dressed in folk costumes) made by the Eftimovski family, as well as to try the specialties of the traditional Prespa cuisine.


Saraj

From the city architecture with its architectural-aesthetic values, the so-called Saraj building stands out - a cultural monument in the Republic of North Macedonia built at the beginning of the 20th century during the Young Turk Revolution.

It was built by the Turkish Major Ahmed Niyazi-Bey in the early twentieth century, following the example of French architectural modern achievements. Saraj reflects the influx of modern ideas, which at that time occupied the Ottoman Empire and Resen as part of it. The dream of the Young Turks to create a modern state begins in North Macedonia, and Saraj is a monument to that movement. Saraj is a beautiful palace built using expensive building materials, with a playful facade and large windows that fill the interior with light. On the ground floor, the courtyard of the Saraj is well arranged and announces the refinement of the interior of the building.
The building of Saraj houses the House of Culture "Dragi Tozija" and the Ceramic Colony. In terms of the tourist offer of the region, Saraj with the institutions that exist in it, can contribute a lot. The organization of permanent archeological, historical and ethnological exhibits, aimed at the general public and especially tourists, give a complete picture of the history, culture and traditions of the region. Striking exhibits would certainly be the ones that are most typical of Prespa: the boats, icons, pottery and archeological artifacts that Prespa abounds in.
The commemorative exhibition of the painter Keraca Visulcheva is also located in the premises of Saraj and enriches the cultural and aesthetic image of the building.


Resen ceramic colony

The ceramic colony is a true representative of how centuries-old traditions can gain a modern course and international recognition.

As is already known, Resen was a center of pottery. Archaeological excavations show that the roots of pottery are somewhere in prehistory, present throughout all later periods: antiquity, Byzantine, post-Byzantine period.
Today, although the craft is nearing its end, the Ceramic Colony introduces it in the 21st century as a form of artistic expression. Thus, from the beginning in 1973 until today, with the hard work and great support of the local authorities, the Colony has grown into an internationally recognized institution, a member of the UNESCO Academy of Ceramics. The studio of the colony has so far created over 200 ceramics made from artists from all over the world, a fund of over 800 exhibits has been created, 300 of which are exhibited in Saraj. The studio in Otesevo, except during the colony, can host world-renowned artists for the rest of the year, which in itself would be an additional incentive for tourists to visit Prespa.


Existing art exhibition of Keraca Visulcheva

The current exhibition of the painter Keraca Visulcheva was established in the Saraj building in the city of Resen, at the request of the painter herself.

A special room is provided in the building in which her works are exhibited, including the unfinished portrait of the former President of the Republic of North Macedonia - Mr. Kiro Gligorov.
The stylistic definition of the entire opus of Keraca Visulcheva focuses on realism and post-impressionism with small inclinations towards national-romanticism. Her painting is briefly referred to as a painting of the impression of feelings and soul. More important than the stylistic commitment is the uncompromising devotion of art and its phenomena: color, form, light, drawing.


The Festival “Actor of Europe”

Every year in the Municipality of Resen is held the theater festival "The Actor of Europe" in the period from 06 to 11 July.

The festival is established as one of the most important cultural events in the Prespa Region and in North Macedonia.
The festival was established after the proclamation of the Prespa Park area in the three countries: North Macedonia, Albania and Greece.
The festival is an international event in which top names from the domestic, regional and international theater scene participate. With their participation in the festival, the theater houses from the neighboring countries Albania and Greece as well as Russia, Italy, Germany, Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium and other countries, left their mark.
The festival is of great importance for the municipality and the whole Prespa region as it is a place and space for presentation of different cultural values. Traditionally, every year in the spirit of cultural cooperation between the three neighboring countries, the festival opens by addressing the audience in the three languages that are spoken on Prespa Lake: Macedonian, Albanian and Greek.
It is held in the courtyard of the Saraj Building.


Prespa Apple Harvest

The Prespa Apple Harvest is the largest economic and cultural event in the Municipality of Resen, which is held every year from September 27-29.

The Prespa Apple Harvest covers activities in the field of agriculture, culture, tourism, art and sports.
This largest event is related to the celebration of the Orthodox Christian Holiday - Krstovden and is also the official start of the apple harvest in Prespa.
The municipality hosts numerous guests and officials from different countries, as well as people who pursue their interest in the field of apple production and tourism.
Within the manifestation, numerous legal and natural entities in the field of agriculture and tourism can present their activities, products and equipment at exhibition stands.
The event takes place on the city square and certain sports activities in sports facilities in the municipality.